Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mises’s Legacy 40 Years Later . How His Work Has Influenced Me.

By Walter Block

First, let me start out with a bit of braggadocio. I must be one of the few people, still living, who has actually shaken hands with Ludwig von Mises (and never washed my hand afterward; so, if you shake hands with me, you come off a bit smelly, but you can directly channel Mises himself through my intermediation).

Now, to business. There is hardly ever a book or an article ever I write about economics, or politics for that matter that does not benefit from, and cite Mises. This is important, because there are all too many economists, even including those who characterize themselves as Austrians (better yet, coordination economists, or market process economists) and whose work is highly dependent upon his, who nevertheless write as if “You Know Who” never published. In this regard I am highly grateful to the Mises Institute in Auburn Alabama, and to all those in other countries such as Mises Canada, who keep his name alive. Mises was to economics what Mozart was to music. I can’t think of a better compliment than that.

At my school, Loyola University New Orleans, I have started up a regular meeting,, called the Human Action Seminar. I try as best I can, to my feeble abilities, to replicate Mises’ seminar in Austrian, and the one at New York University (where I met him.) I regard Mises as the best economist who ever wrote, period, and not just the best in one century or another. Mises had a long productive life, and I try to emulate him as best I can in both regards.

I am a heavily published author in economics and political philosophy. I have a long paper trail. Most of it is filled with praise for Ludwig von Mises. Yet, I am also proud to say that I have also, on rare occasion, attempted to correct my betters, Mises in this case, and have published critiques of his works. For example:

Barnett and Block, 2004, 2005, 2005-2006, 2007, 2012; Block, 1977; Block, Klein and Hansen, 2007

Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2004. “On the Optimum Quantity of Money,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 39-52;

Barnett, William II, and Walter E. Block. 2005. “Money: Capital Good, Consumers’ Good, or (Media of) Exchange Good?” Review of Austrian Economics. 18 (2): 179-194;

Barnett, William II, and Walter E. Block. 2005-2006. “Mises, Rothbard and Salerno on Costs.” Corporate Ownership & Control, Winter, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 203-205

Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2007. “Saving and Investment: A Praxeological Approach.” New Perspectives on Political Economy, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 129 – 138;;;

Barnett II, William and Walter E. Block. 2012. “The Optimum Quantity of Money, Once Again.” Economics, Management, and Financial Markets; Vol. 7, No. 1, March, pp. 9-24;,com_sectionex/Itemid,103/id,23/view,category/#catid145

Block, Walter E. 1977. “Austrian Monopoly Theory — a Critique (of Mises and Kirzner),” The Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. I, No. 4, fall, pp. 271-279;

Block, Walter E., Peter Klein and Per Henrik Hansen. 2007. “The Division of Labor under Homogeneity: A Critique of Mises and Rothbard.” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, April Vol. 66 Issue 2, pp. 457-464;;

How do I reconcile my appreciation for Mises, and, yes, love for him, too, with criticizing him? I do so because we are not a cult. We Austro libertarians think for ourselves, let the chips fall where they may in our attempt to get that proverbial one millionth of an inch closer to the truth. We have no one, no one, who is off limits in this pursuit. Like Mozart, Mises, too, was upon rare occasion able to contrive a sour note. I hope and trust that even in, no, especially in, my critical essays on Mises my love and admiration for this genius comes shining through.

The above originally appeared at the Bastiat Circle.

1 comment:

  1. Dr Block taught me to be polite while disagreeing. Getting screamed at and called names does not change thought patterns.